Friday I took the day off from work to get legalized again - as they say, it's no fun being an illegal alien, and I'm not interested in deportation. But getting legal doesn't take very long, and the weather and my spirits were both so good that I wanted to do something nice. There are several French places between the city hall and home, some quite highly rated, and I thought I'd try one of them. This being Japan, they were both fully booked for lunch on a Friday. Then I thought of the two well-regarded Italian places in the neighborhood. And they're both closed at lunch. Emergent pattern? Thus I'm embarrassed to say that I ended up at Pivoine - embarrassed because I liked it a lot, even better than I remembered, and I think it would be worth your while to schlep over here and try it sometime.
The basic gimmick, as far as I'm concerned, is that the chef and waitress used to work at Merveille and struck out on their own (with some intervening spells, but never mind that). This means you get the same service, almost the same food, and a lot of the same atmosphere, but even cosier and a bit cheaper. In the past I wrote that the food wasn't quite up to the level of Merveille's Matsumoto. On this visit, within the confines of the simpler ingredients and techniques I chose (no stuffed quail en croute for lunch, y'know?), I thought it was really good.
What do you think? The above 3.5 courses were Y3k at lunch; dinners start at Y4k for the basic course (same dish-count, but no choices). There aren't too many options because it's such a small neighborhood place that they must not be able to keep inventory and plan turnover, but if even the regular ingredients are going to get cooked this well, I don't much care. Chef really seems to have lifted his game since my last visit, already going on a year ago. I'll be visiting again, much sooner this time.
You were perhaps expecting a Thursday night post?